Self-change is the key to social transformation

Reflection, realization and resolution are the three steps to transforming for good and, in turn, a larger part of society as well, says Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj Ji

The great history of mankind gives us a panoramic view of past events and also presents us with a parade of similar and dissimilar but significant events that have followed one another, giving running commentary on people. These accounts of events have been handed down to posterity in the form of oral tradition, pictography, edicts, coins, and written words. But from a study of the form in which these stories have been transmitted to successive generations, the conclusion drawn is that history is a record of the changes that have taken place in civilizations, nations, cities, states and human settlements or even nomadic tribes. It is a continuing story of the rise and fall of certain men and women and also of the communities, nations and groups that were led by them during a particular period.

These chronicles of change show that some men and women have had a great transformation in their lives by reflecting deeply on the futility of their actions. It is always the trio of deep reflections, realization and determination which allowed them to rise to great moral and spiritual heights. This transformation that began with them then transformed large swaths of humanity. A few of these people are Saint Valmiki, Gautam Buddha, King Ashoka, Tulsidas and Mahatma Gandhi.

Saint Valmiki used to rob passengers who passed his way to the deep forest. One day he tried to rob Sadhus or beggars. They told him that he earned his living in a sinful way and that none of his family members, for whom he stole, would save him from punishment for his sins. Valmiki realized this and he made a firm resolve not to rob anyone in the future. This led to his inner transformation and in turn awakened many of his good qualities. He was now a deeply compassionate man and his mind became very moved to write about the victory of virtue over vice in the form of the great epic Ramayana. Likewise, when Buddha saw sick and dying people, he realized that there was a lot of suffering in the world and that he had to try to identify the cause of it in order to free himself and others. This brought about a great transformation in him, which then led to the transformation of many others. Similarly, Ashoka reflected on the great suffering caused to people as a result of the Kalinga War. Realizing the futility of wars, he resolved to abandon war forever.

The great poet Tulsidas reflected on his wife’s remarks when one midnight he visited her at her in-laws without their invitation. He realized that sexual lust was an abject form of dependence on women and that it was better to love God. When Mohanlal Karamchand Gandhi’s luggage was thrown from a moving train, he too was expelled. Reflecting on this sad and humiliating event, he realized how degrading it was to be a citizen of a country that was under the yoke of foreign domination. His self-esteem was awakened and he swore that he would spend the rest of his life for the political freedom of his country. This is how his own transformation made the dream of a free India a reality.

Such examples clearly show how inner transformation in men has come about after deep reflection, awareness and resolution. These three steps transformed sinners into saints, ordinary men into great rulers, and men of clay into high-souled people. These have awakened their potential to do good. Those who were initially involved in destructive acts have now become constructive and creative. The change of individuals has therefore led to a transformation of society.

However, is it so easy to transform? Experiences have shown that the greatest difficulty in this process of change is man’s own resistance, non-cooperation or lack of will or intention to change. But, in the present situation, when man has no constant happiness, is in bad health, has sorrows and sufferings or when the clouds of destruction are looming in the form of nuclear weapons, there should be no restlessness among thoughtful people to change their ways of life into a kind that does not cause suffering to other humans. Once the transformation process begins, it will automatically attract others’ attention. We have to ask – is there anyone who doesn’t love a smiling rose? None. Well, who wouldn’t love a cool morning breeze on sunny summer days? Who could resist its refreshing and energizing effect? Likewise, if there is a person who always sports a smile on their face and speaks refreshing, energizing and sweet lyrics like the melody of the nightingale, then no one will be able to resist the temptation to be like another. Doesn’t a child’s innocence attract and impress everyone? Is there anyone who has never been fed milk?

Archemedes had said, ‘Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum to place it on and I will move the world.’ Likewise, the Almighty Supreme says that if you change individually, you can change a larger part of the world. On your shoulder rests the responsibility for the transformation of the entire world.